Saturday, April 5

keeping these words close

I am six years old, and her rocking chair wears grooves into the deep brown carpet.

She reads Proverbs aloud and I draw. I draw until the colors blend, green over yellow into blue. I draw to the rhythm of her voice, humble and quiet-sweet.

She reads over the words and something on the inside of me changes, some sort of landscape forms, and while I am tracing shapes, these words shape me. I can still hear her voice softly, Raise up a child in the way that she should go, and even when she is old, she will not depart from it.

I'm nine years old, and she kisses me before she ties on her apron strings and leaves for the late shift. She still reads in the morning, but she reads longer. She rarely leaves the book of Isaiah.

I'm too young to realize that she's tired- that she takes care of so many, with so little time left for herself. But she doesn't seem to run out of herself to give. And when she reads they will mount up on wings as eagles she doesn't sound tired; she sounds transcendent.

I'm sixteen and solemnly quiet. If she still reads, I don't listen. I don't draw. I don't write. I don't do anything that would involve caring about something. Did I mention I was sixteen? She loves my hard edges and weird moods anyway.

When I come home late one night, a crack of light slants out of her door. She prays again: Raise up a child in the way that she should go, and even when she is old, she will not depart from it. And then I hear her, quieter. She that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

It's been a long day. She rests, and I pull down a quilt from the closet.

"Mini-Quilt"  by Carol Spears via Creative Commons
She thinks I'm smart. She never went to college. She thinks I'm brave. But she never stops loving people. She thinks she's run out of things to teach me. I think I've only just begun learning. Because while I read piles of books, she knows the book of James. She knows it like you would a favorite song, because it gives her joy.

My sweet mother has taught me more about faith- real, gritty, joyous, self-sacrificing faith, than any other person to walk the earth. She reads the Bible like it's a letter from her favorite friend. And it feels like I'm only recently learning how.

I spread the quilt out and reach for her black Bible, which is coming apart at the seams. She says, oh no, you don't have to read to me, but I think it's time I return the favor. It's the beginning of Joshua that she falls asleep to; it's my voice now that carries the words.

This week's post was part of an exercise for She Reads Truth, a community of women who read and respond and talk about the Bible. This week's passage was Joshua 1:8-9. I found I couldn't write about Joshua, or loving the Bible, or meditating, without writing about the person whose life I've learned it from. Thanks for reading along.

With hope,

1 comment:

Naomi V. said...

Wow! Why are there no comments? What beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. I love this.